Customer Reviews: Theories of Childhood: An Introduction to Dewey, Montessori, Erikson, Piaget & Vygotsky
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on April 27, 2003
This book was short but to the point. It is a great starting point for new parents or teachers just starting out in the child care profession. It whets the appetite for further readingon the popular theorists. The layout was simple and easy to follow. One of the best things I liked about this book was that it had discussion questions and suggestions for further reading at the end of each chapter. I have used this book as a teaching tool during seminars where I work. I could see this book as a good supplemental teaching tool in the classroom. A perfect addition to the pre-school teacher's library.
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on October 10, 2006
The worst thing I can say about this little book is that the title doesn't name Mooney's intended audience, which the reader quickly realizes is very specific: the teachers and guides of preschool and early-elementary aged children. But for that audience -- and, I would contend, also for the parents of infants and toddlers -- this is an excellent book. Mooney's purpose is to make the wisdom of these five theorists accessible to those who do not have time or interest to read dense, abstract theory, and I think she has succeeded admirably.

The introduction initially turned me off, as it begins with a rant about the evils of living in contemporary America -- apparently this is meant to show the reader how rational education and childcare are in extra need today. For me this is a throw-away argument: the basic ideas of the theories presented in this book would be extremely important to consider relative to raising children in any culture, time or place. There's no need to get on a soapbox about the "consumerism" and sundry "inequities" of our society.

The rest of the book completely won me over. The main text proceeds in five chapters covering some of the basic ideas of the five theorists named. The author had a difficult challenge in trying to introduce the reader to the complex theories of five extremely prolific thinkers (Piaget alone wrote 30 books) within less than 100 pages, and yet this book is an overwhelming success. This is because by narrowing down her intended audience and focusing on practical advice, Mooney can cover just the basic ideas from each theory that are especially relevant to early-childhood teachers.

The writing is readable and never dull, despite the inaccessibility of some of the thinkers she is presenting, and the structure within each chapter works well: first the theorist is presented generally, then a bit of his or her theory is presented in abstract, culminating in a short list of specific, practical guidelines, which are described with well-chosen, homey examples. For each theorist, there are two or three bits of theory presented this way in rotation. Very short lists of review questions and further reading suggestions follow each chapter.

Mooney makes minimal attempts to note some of the most obvious overlaps between the theorists, as well as some of the contrasts (such as Vygotsky's criticism of Piaget's supposed tendency to view learning as a primarily private affair). But since the focus of this book is on readable, practical advice for teachers -- on putting the theories to use in the classroom -- there is no deep analysis of the theories or of any of their subtleties. Not only are minor points of the theories consciously missing, some of each theory's major points are missing as well. This focus on relevant essentials is a real strength of the book.

As a parent, I loved this book. For one thing, it introduced me to some of the principles of Erikson which I think are critical to good parenting. In the end, I wonder if both teachers and parents of toddlers wouldn't be well-advised to re-read this small book every year.
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on August 13, 2004
This book is an excellent introduction to the work of five major child development theorists: Dewey, Montessori, Erikson, Piaget, and Vygotsky. In the book's introduction, the author accurately describes the book as "a practitioner's manual as well as a college textbook" that is "a basic introduction . . . not intended to be academic or scholarly." While it may not be written with a "scholarly" tone, don't discount the worthiness or usefulness of this book for students in early childhood programs. Students will be pleased with this book's readability and its emphasis on linking theory to real-world practice.

Each chapter begins with a photo of the theorist, along with a brief biographical sketch of their life and work. Mooney then hits the high points of each theory, concentrating on those parts that apply to young children (for example, Piaget's sensorimotor and preoperational stages of cognitive development receive the most attention in the text, while concrete operations & formal operations are mentioned briefly). Each component of the theory is then discussed in terms of how it is put into practice. For example, Montessori's emphasis on child-centered environments is examined in regards to providing children with real, child-sized tools and furnishings, keeping materials & equipment accessible to children, & creating beautiful, orderly, well-planned spaces for children. Each chapter concludes with three discussion questions which are framed as real-life scenarios in early childhood classrooms, followed by suggestions for further reading.

This book is an excellent and highly recommended supplemental text. It is also useful in answering the often-asked student question, "Why do I need to know theory? What good will it do me in working with children?"
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on December 24, 2011
I am reading this to help me to teach my public- schooled kids more effectively when they are home. I read it fast. It's an easy read and very good. Thank you for writing this for me! It actually shows real life applications of the best of the discoveries about how kids learn best.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon December 2, 2012
I really liked this book, and I learned a ton from it. This book takes the theories of five different major contributors in the field--John Dewey, Maria Montessori, Erik Erikson, Jean Piaget, and Lev Vygotsky.

The book is a short 94 pages of content, and it dedicates one chapter to each of the five educators. I really liked this format, because it gives a great introduction.

I learned that all Montessori schools aren't connected, and that Maria Montessori was the one responsible for kids having child-sized tools, and I learned how developing object permanence is connected to kids being distraught when they leave their parents, from Erikson.

I also like the examples in the book. Each bad example is balanced by at least one good example, and the author admits where she messed up in the past, which I don't think I've ever seen with an academic. Kudos to you, Carol Mooney.

And, the introduction is actually readable. This is usually the sign of a great book. I usually suffer through introductions on books, but this one actually flew by.

+The whole book, including the introduction, is very readable
+Excellent overview of some hard-to-compress subjects
+Made me think about a lot of stuff, and reconsider my beliefs on some things
+Written in conversational, first person, so it's easy to learn and remember

-I didn't like the quote boxes on the sides of the book. I ended up just skipping over them. But they are a good way to get an overview of the whole book in about ten minutes.
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on April 28, 2011
Basically an overview of the different styles of the most influential educators in early childhood studies. Even if your class does not require this for reading I would recommend it.

I wish I had owned this book when I first started taking Early Childhood Education classes. Trust me when I say that most, if not all teachers will test you on your knowledge of at least; Ericson, Piaget, Vygotsky, and their theories and ideas.

In addition to the brief, but effective, overviews for their differing styles, this book also covers some of the history of Dewey, Montessori, Ericson, Piaget, and Vygotsky. Like the reviewer "Susan L." said, the discussion questions at the end of each chapter and suggestion for reading are some of the best things about the book.

An example of the discussion questions (posted after the chapter on Maria Montessori:

"Last week you had a big cleaning day at the center. The children took their chairs and toys outside and scrubbed them down with soapy water and brushes. Today a dad came in with a complaint that he does not pay tuition for his children to do your cleaning. Basing your response on Montessori ideas about real jobs and responsibility, what would you say?"

Overall, an effective introduction and general overview of five selfless leaders and their ideas and understanding of how children learn and grow into their best selves.

(I am a male student within one year of completing my Associates Degree for Early Childhood Education with a focus on Challenging Behaviors and Administration. I currently work at a Preschool part time.)
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on June 12, 2013
It's been 20 years since I took an educational psychology or developmental psychology class. This book makes the main theoretical ideas "short and sweet." It's a great review for those of us who have been out of school for a while.
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on June 14, 2013
Mooney's Theories of Childhood is intended to familiarize or familiarize educators with the primary theorists of childhood development and learning. Included in this work are summaries of concepts developed by Dewey, Montessori, Erikson, Piaget, and Vygotsky. While these theories differ in some ways, for example Montessori focused on ways to make the environment more conducive to childhood learning. In contrast, Vygotsky focused on the importance of social interactions and how they promote learning. Regardless of how much these theories differ, the common factor among them is that the types of experiences they have dramatically affect children. While it might seem apparent that this is the case, a cursory observation of some parents and teachers will make clear that many people, once caught up in a situation, fail to keep in mind the significance of each experience in a child's life.

Because human development is so complex, each of these theories alone does not seem to adequately explain childhood development and learning. Taken collectively, however, these theories can offer a diverse set of resources from which to draw from to maximize learning potential of the experiences of children. To aid in understanding this, Mooney has included real-world examples of how these principles can be applied. Even though the target audience is professional educators, parents, too, could benefit greatly from reading this concise volume. That being said, the further reading sections at the end of each chapter should be taken advantage of by both parents and educators so as to gain the greatest understanding of childhood development to ensure the children in their care are best served.
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on March 22, 2016
This shorthand version of childhood learning theories provided invaluable background for my master's thesis. A great go-to guide when looking for citations (several additional sources were identified for me). Great handbook!
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on March 25, 2014
I purchased this book along with theories of attachment for a course I was taking. The two books together compile a lot of knowledge on how children learn and develop attachments in the early childhood years. Great book and fast shipping. :)
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